mike greenberg-michelle beadle-scott van pelt

On Monday, The Hollywood Reporter reported that ESPN plans to give Michelle Beadle and Jalen Rose prominent roles on the new morning show to be hosted by Mike Greenberg. To make that arrangement work, Beadle will likely give up SportsNation, and though she and Rose will remain on NBA Countdown “for now,” that could change.

These moves make clear is that ESPN is serious about its new show. In diverting two high-profile and high-paid personalities to Greenberg’s program, the network is showing its commitment to owning the mornings, just as it has previously shown a commitment to winning the late-night slot with Scott Van Pelt’s SportsCenter. In fact, the last few years of personnel decisions in Bristol suggest ESPN is employing a sort of bookend strategy, in which the early and late windows take priority over almost every other show on the network’s airwaves.

Think of all the partnerships ESPN has sacrificed for the sake of the program you wake up to and the one you go to sleep to. To make Van Pelt the host of his own late-night show, they ended the highly successful SVP & Russillo show Van Pelt co-hosted on ESPN Radio. To make Greenberg the host of the forthcoming morning show, they broke apart the even more successful Mike & Mike dynasty.

Now, to add Beadle and Rose to the mix, they are likely separating the former from her popular afternoon show, possibly divorcing the latter from his Jalen & Jacoby radio show and maybe pulling the duo off the network’s marquee NBA show. This isn’t shifting Jemele Hill and Michael Smith back a few hours and giving them a bigger studio and a wide audience. This is inventing a new show and a new dynamic from scratch, while tearing down some highly successful status quos.

ESPN’s bet paid off with Van Pelt; his show is generally well-liked and well-watched. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t risk in going all-in with Greenberg and company. If the market doesn’t emerge for a sports-talk morning TV show, if viewers cry out for a return to highlights-centric programming or if the chemistry doesn’t work between the hosts, ESPN will have dismantled three or four shows for an unsuccessful venture. The fact that the network is taking that risk shows just how important Greenberg’s show is to people in charge.

We’re now several years into ESPN’s plan to turn its SportsCenter franchise into a series of individualized shows catered to the personalities that front them, and although Greenberg’s show might not carry “SportsCenter” branding, it will follow in that same spirit. In the glory days of SportsCenter, the show was destination television for early birds and night owls alike. Then, ESPN’s currency was highlights. Now, its currency is discussion and personality. Still, the emphasis on the morning and the nighttime is strong as ever.

About Alex Putterman

Alex is a writer and editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has written for The Atlantic, VICE Sports, MLB.com, SI.com and more. He is a proud alum of Northwestern University and The Daily Northwestern. You can find him on Twitter @AlexPutterman.

  • souvien

    All ESPN bashing aside..does anybody like Greenberg? He has all the charisma of a jar of mayonnaise…

  • newdog301

    Why not give Antonietta Collins a show? She’s the only good SportsCenter anchor they have right now and for some reason she was the odd person out when they redid their morning lineup a few weeks ago.

    • Shawn Diiorio

      She’s an attractive young woman who does shows in tight dresses. That’s it.

  • MrBull

    The morning show will be worst then that well known previous morning show on espn – Cold Pizza…
    At least they have a winner at night with SVP….

  • Bscotch Bscotch

    A few weeks in, they will be DYING to have Cold Pizza’s initial numbers

  • Lloyd Robins

    Mike Greenberg is horrible. What do they see in him?

  • BobLee Says

    NBC’s Today Show was never quite the same when they phased out “J. Fred Muggs” the chimpanzee in 1963.

  • Larry Petersen

    Boring

  • Bscotch Bscotch

    You’re making a hell of a pivot from the usual ESPN ratings erosion and distribution woes stories to lamenting the breakup of “highly successful status quos.”

  • Bragar

    The thing espn doesn’t get and never will…sports enthusiasts watch sports coverage to learn about results and competitors. They don’t tune is to watch annoying professional talkers drone on in perpetual idiocy throughout the day/night. (Nicely redundant!)

  • sportsfan365

    These people are not “stars”.

  • Bill Cord

    First, Dan Patrick owns the morning sports show and any show headed by Greenberg has no chance of overtaking Patrick. Second, None of the three (Greenberg, Beatle, and Rose) are likeable people and it is doubtful a show led by them could draw any viewers from Patrick.

  • Escobar Furious Sr.

    If Beadle moves to mornings and gives up SportsNation, bring on Katie Nolan to fill that role.

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